This article examines the temporality of interlinear translation through a case study of the rendering of Friedrich Hölderlin’s poetry into Persian. We argue that, in its adherence to the word order of the original, the interlinear crib prioritizes the temporality of the instant (kairos) over the temporality of the linear sequence (chronos). Kairos is made manifest in the literalist translations of Hölderlin by the modernist Iranian translator-poet Bijan Elahi (d. 2010). This inquiry advances our understanding of the role of syntax in constituting literary form and in shaping translation, and exposes the contingency of the translator’s decisions in every given literary juncture.
The Temporality of Interlinear Translation: Kairos in the Persian Hölderlin
Kayvan Tahmasebian is a Marie Curie Fellow at the University of Birmingham. He translates poetry and writes about the translational aspects of Iranian modernity. Currently he is working on a book manuscript entitled Modernity in Footnotes. With Rebecca Ruth Gould, he has co-edited The Routledge Handbook of Translation and Activism (2020).
Rebecca Ruth Gould is a writer and scholar of Iran and the Caucasus. Her books include Writers and Rebels: The Literatures of Insurgency in the Caucasus (Yale University Press, 2016), The Routledge Handbook of Translation and Activism (2020, co-edited with Kayvan Tahmasebian), The Persian Prison Poem: Sovereignty and the Political Imagination (Edinburgh University Press, 2021), and Beautiful English (Dreich Books, 2021). She teaches at the University of Birmingham. Her website is https://rrgould.hcommons.org.
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Kayvan Tahmasebian, Rebecca Ruth Gould; The Temporality of Interlinear Translation: Kairos in the Persian Hölderlin. Representations 1 August 2021; 155 (1): 1–28. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/rep.2021.155.1.1
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